A picturesque old town in Slovakia is running a “love bank” where couples can go on Valentine’s Day to deposit small, cherished tokens of their love.
The lovers’ vault, containing 100,000 tiny drawers, is in Banska Stiavnica’s House of Marina, a museum celebrating the world’s longest love poem.
Marina, published in 1846, is a 2,910-line poem by Andrej Sladkovic. He loved Maria Pischlova, but her parents made her marry a gingerbread maker.
The poem is studied in Slovak schools.
Andrej and Maria fell in love in Banska Stiavnica when they were just 14.
He was a poor student who tutored her at her parents’ comfortable home. She became his muse but, sadly for him, her parents preferred the wealthy gingerbread maker.
Andrej later became a priest and married the daughter of a clerk, two years after Marina’s wedding.
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The medieval town is a protected Unesco heritage site and the poem Marina is regarded as a Slovak national treasure. Some lovers might even consider Banska Stiavnica a romantic rival to Paris or Verona.
Its website promises visitors: “you will get goose bumps when you witness Sladkovic professing his love for Marina”.
Among the interactive exhibits is a “love-o-meter”, purporting to measure the strength of a couple’s love.
Among the many lines in Sladkovic’s poem are these:
“I can abandon your lips,
I can abandon the chance to marry you
I can kill myself:
But I can’t stop loving you!”
Slovakia launches ‘love bank’ for Valentine’s Day romance